John 12:37-50 (NRSV)
The Unbelief of the People
37Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Lord, who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,
40“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.”
41Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him.
42Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.
The praise of men – The approval of human beings. It does not appear that they had a living, active faith, but that they were convinced in their understanding that he was the Messiah. They had that kind of faith which is so common among people – a speculative acknowledgment that religion is true, but an acknowledgment which leads to no self-denial, which shrinks from the active duties of piety, and fears man more than God. True faith is active. It overcomes the fear of man; it prompts to self-denying duties, Hebrews 11. Nevertheless, it was no unimportant proof that Jesus was the Messiah, that any part of the great council of the Jews were even speculatively convinced of it: and it shows that the evidence could not have been slight when it overcame their prejudices and pride, and constrained them to admit that the lowly and poor man of Nazareth was the long expected Messiah of their nation.
—Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible
Summary of Jesus’ Teaching
44Then Jesus cried aloud:
These are the last words in John’s gospel from Jesus to the public. In this last speech to the multitude, Jesus emphasized the themes of all His previous preaching in John.
He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me: Jesus stressed His unity with God the Father.
I have come as light into the world: Jesus stressed His own truthfulness, and the need man has to follow Jesus.
I do not judge Him: Jesus stressed His love and acceptance for the sinner; yet the word that I have spoken will judge Him — there are inescapable consequences for rejecting Jesus.
I have not spoken on My own authority: Jesus stressed His own submission to God the Father. His authority flowed from His submission to God the Father.
“Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.
47I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, 49for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
Jesus did not come into the world to condemn; he came to save. But Jesus said here that at the last day the words which these people had heard would be their judges. That is one of the great truths of life. A man cannot be blamed for not knowing. But if he knows the right and does the wrong, his condemnation is all the more serious. Therefore every wise thing that we have heard, and every opportunity we have had to know the truth, will in the end be a witness against us.
Yes, Lord, we do believe in you! You are the light of the world!
HERE is “Jesus, the Light of the World,” featuring Margaret Rainey and Kami Woodard. I could listen to this all day.
1) In verses 42-43 we read of the leaders who were “secret followers” of Jesus because they were afraid they would lose their positions. Is it possible to be a secret follower of Jesus? One commentator wrote, “Only temporarily; either the secrecy will cancel out the belief, or the belief will cancel out the secrecy.” What do you think?
2) What do we know, that we are not doing? Where is our practicing not matching our preaching? What truth have we not applied sincerely to our own hearts and minds? Let us ask Jesus to help us!
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.